Thursday, 15 November 2012

Why a 'no' vote is the right vote this time round

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  1. Peter Myers impassioned plea for unity is commendable, and therefore to be respected.
    But the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" is a spiritual unity, a commonly held organic unity in the body of Christ, not an organisational one centered around questions of gender, ordinationm role of bishops & etc. Three brief points in response to Peter's presentation:
    1. Any unity worth having must be a unity in the truth.
    2. An uneasy, cobbled together unity apart from, or at the expense of, truth is not worth having - that would be superficial and potentially divisive at later stages anyway.
    3. Complete unity, to state the obvious, is simply not possible on this issue, given the existing predominance of a deeply entrenched church tradition opposed to women's ministry, over that of NT teaching which endorses the priesthood of ALL believers, not a male minority.

    There is a "truth" about the place and role of women to be found in Scripture which does not entail placing in tension the scripture texts of 1 Tim.2 and 1 Cor. 14:34-36 with Gal.3:28.

    Neither the Gospel narratives, nor the recorded words of Jesus EVER put restrictions on the ministry of women.
    That is a basic premise, and therefore the texts above need to be re-examined and re-evaluated to see whether the traditional interpretations bear the restrictions placed upon them in relation to women's ministry.
    This remains then a theological, not primarily an administrative issue.

  2. How could 1 Tim 2 be in 'tension' with Gal 3:28 when Gal 3:28 says nothing at all about leadership?

  3. So we begin with the egalitarian presupposition that women should be able to exercise spiritual authority. We then impose that presupposition on Galatians 3. In doing so we create "tension" with the Pastoral Epistles where Paul actually does talk about exercising spiritual authority. ("Tension" of course is a euphemism for "contradiction." As in "You can sleep with your neighbor's wife" creates tension with "You shall not commit adultery.") The theological task presented is thus to resolve the "tension" by making Paul say something he clearly does not say. Perhaps we should relieve the tension by re-examining the presupposition that was imposed on Galatians 3.


  4. mattghg16 November 2012 14:00
    "How could 1 Tim 2 be in 'tension' with Gal 3:28 when Gal 3:28 says nothing at all about leadership?"

    Indeed so, both have entirely independent and different contexts, and of course there is no 'tension' between them.
    The reference to that was made in passing by Peter Byers in his presentation in describing what some Christians perceive to be a tension between these.
    I do not think we need to waste time on what is in effect a 'straw man' and instead concentrate on attempts at a better exegesis of 1 Tim.2:12, and 1 Cor. 14:34-36.
    These texts need to be re-visited again in depth, and helpful to that end is the new ground-breaking little exposition of these by Dr Jon Zens (conservative scholar) in his 'What's With Paul and Women? - Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2'

    Many evangelical leaders in the USA have acknowledged their debt to Dr Zen's fresh light on these texts and have taken the step of openly commending his work. Only £5.49 from Amazon. In my book this is a 'must read' and in context offers satisfactory and the clearest answers given yet to questions on these admittedly difficult passages.

  5. Hi Carl. You wrote: "So we begin with the egalitarian presupposition that women should be able to exercise spiritual authority.", and you commented similarly on Cranmer's blog.

    I ask, why is it necessary to posit that advocates of WO base their views on "egalitarian presuppositions"?
    IMO it is not necessary to do that at all, but rather to base one's view on the many NT references to the place and role of women in ministry and take them at their face value.

    True there are healthy egalitarian threads which run throughout the NT, but these are not relevant to the issue of women's ministry are they?

  6. Graham Wood

    If you want to determine what the Scripture says about the role of women in Church leadership, you must begin with those places that specifically deal with the role of women in Church leadership. Paul is not unambiguous in his direction. You can't overturn that direction by imposing the penumbra of other Scripture on Paul's statements. It seems to me very similar to saying "Yes, I know what the commandment says about adultery, but we must read it in the light of those many New Testament references that affirm the goodness of human sexuality."


  7. Thank you Carl. To address your point "If you want to determine what the Scripture says about the role of women in Church leadership, you must begin with those places that specifically deal with the role of women in Church leadership"

    I suggest, leaving aside for a moment the controverted passages of 1 Tim. 2:11,12 and 1 Cor. 14:34-36, which as I point out above have particular cultural contexts which Paul is concerned to address and answer for the particular problems these expose, the "direction" of NT teaching is very full with reference to women's ministry.
    But I don't think you will find specific NT teaching about the "role of women" set apart from that of their male counterparts - as ALL are assumed to be equally valid in the Body of Christ.

    Behind Pauls' thinking about ministry as a whole lies his basic premise that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal.3:28). As N T Wright points out that is not to say that there are not real gender differences, gifts and ministries for both, but the old distinctions of the separation of women in the OT and taught in the Torah, no longer apply to believers of both genders who are "in Christ".
    What then about ministry?
    I think you will find that nowhere does Paul, or indeed any other Apostle, forbid or restrict female ministry in the church in any way - quite the contrary.
    Thus the whole of the NT is redolent with references to female ministry (too many to refer to here).
    I suggest if you go through for example, 1 Corinthians 11-14 (the fullest and most detailed chapters in the NT we have about ministry), no distinction is drawn between men and women by Paul as to the exercise of ministry per se.

    Throughout these passages Paul encourages "all" to exercise spiritual gifts, and "all" to prophecy, and "all" to edify the Church of Christ when gathered without exception, women included. e.g. 1 Cor.12:7. "But to each one is given the manifestation of the (Holy) Spirit... for good and profit".
    In a word, Paul's teaching in these passages is inclusive.

    We can hardly be surprised therefore to find that women played leading roles in ministry in the NT - even to the extent of a wife/husband, or possibly brother/sister, team of Junia and Andronicus beong cited as "outstanding among the apostles".
    Likewise Priscilla and Aquila were Paul's "co-workers".

    As I point out above the disputed passages cannot be used to invalidate the overwheliming evidence of many other NT texts which describe women's ministry, and it is the former which need to be revisited for re-examination and reinterpreation (see my comment above,) not the the latter which abound in the NT record.

    As Dr. Zens comments "Have you ever thought about the fact that we have in tne NT more glimpses into the service of women in the Kingdom than we have concerning most of the twelve apostles"?